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PDP-Laban backs UST alumnus for House speaker

Thomasian lawyer Lord Allan Velasco was chosen by the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino – Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-LABAN), President Rodrigo Duterte’s political party, as their bet for the next House speaker.

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Photo taken from Philippine Daily Inquirer

Thomasian lawyer Lord Allan Velasco was chosen by the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino – Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-LABAN), President Rodrigo Duterte’s political party, as their bet for the next House speaker. 

In a statement Wednesday, June 26, Senator Manny Pacquiao, a party stalwart, announced the endorsement of Marinduque representative Velasco as their choice for the House speakership.

Earlier, majority of the PDP-Laban members signed a manifesto stating their support for Velasco. But later in an interview, Duterte said that he will not be endorsing anyone for the post.

The manifesto read: “We are firmly convinced that Representative Lord Allan Jay Q. Velasco is imbued with the leadership qualities to steer and unite the entire House of Representatives in the passage of crucial legislative reforms in support of the legislative agenda of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte in order to safeguard the country’s economic gains and social progress.”

Further, the manifesto added that Velasco is “the best choice” in leading the 18th Congress “given his experience, competence and strong camaraderie with his colleagues.”

Meanwhile, Duterte, through Malacañang spokesperson Salvador Panelo, reiterated his statement saying that he leaves the position to the capable hands of the members of the Congress. 

He added: “[Duterte] is comfortable with any of the candidates securing the seat of the Speaker of the House of Representatives because they are all his political allies.”

Velasco finished his Bachelor of Laws in the University of Santo Tomas in 2005. Last 2018 in their homecoming, UST Alumni conferred on him Gawad Thomasian Alumni in Government Service Award along with Mocha Uson.

He served as the provincial administrator of Marinduque as well as the chairman of the Marinduque chapter of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.

Among his priorities during his term as the provincial tourism council chairman was the improvement in agriculture and eco-tourism. 

Furthermore, as the Chairman of the House Committee on Energy, he passed an act institutionalizing energy efficiency and conservation programs, while advocating for affordable energy and sufficient power supply.

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Youth most vulnerable to anti-terror law—solon, youth groups

Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Elago, along with several youth groups and student councils, condemned the passage of the Anti-Terror Law (ATL), emphasizing it endangers human rights of Filipinos, especially the youth.

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Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Elago (left) and UST Senior High School Student Council (SHS-SC) representative AJ dela Cruz (right) during an online press conference streamed via Student Christian Movement of the Philippines official Facebook page.

Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Elago, along with several youth groups and student councils, condemned the passage of the Anti-Terror Law (ATL), emphasizing it endangers human rights of Filipinos, especially the youth. 

“[N]akasalalay dito ang pagpantay ng kinabukasan ng mga kabataang pilipino at ng ating buong bayan, kung kaya’t kinakailangan na tiyakin natin na ang mga kabataan, kasama ng […] sambayanang pilipino, ay nagkakaisa karapatan,” Elago said in an online conference yesterday, Jan. 16. 

Elago stressed that the country is not only in the state of public health emergency, but also in a “state of human rights emergency,” which is why she denounced the controversial ATL. 

“[I]to ay direkta sa House of Representatives na napakarami pang hindi nareresolba na mga kaso ng pamamaslang sa drug war at sa mga human rights violations na natala,” she said. 

Elago reminded the government to prioritize the health sector through free mass testing, intensified contact tracing, and stronger essential health service; and to continue extending help to the citizens who lost their jobs and source of income in this pandemic.


Youth red-tagging

Among the youth groups and student councils who called out the detrimental effects of ATL is the UST Senior High School Student Council (SHS-SC). 

SHS-SC representative AJ dela Cruz said that with the passage of ATL, many students are vulnerable to being red-tagged even if they are just doing their job. 

“[A]ng bagong Anti-Terrorism Law [ay] maaring magtag sa ating mga [student leader] bilang mga terorista kahit ginagawa lang naman natin ang ating mga trabaho,” dela Cruz said.

“[P]atunay ito na ang kalagayan ng mga kabataan na estudyante sa loob ng mga classroom ay hindi hiwalay sa kalagayan ng buong bansa,” he added.

Dela Cruz stressed that student leaders are not just mere event organizers. It is also their responsibility to “amplify issues” such as ATL to the student body. 

“Nakikita natin kung paano tayo nanunumbalik sa ating mga roots bilang mga [student leader] na nanguna sa paglaban kina Marcos at Erap, kung paano natin ginagampanan ang konstitusyonal na mandato bilang nation builders,” dela Cruz said. 

The press conference was streamed virtually in the official Facebook page of the Student Christian Movement of the Philippines. 

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Include youth in climate measures, environmental activists say

Environmental activists demanded the government Friday, Sept. 25, for the inclusion of youth participation in measures against the climate injustices in the country. 

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Environmental activists demanded the government Friday, Sept. 25, for the inclusion of youth participation in measures against the climate injustices in the country. 

“[A]dapt the youth agenda. You need to designate spaces for us. Co-power us and include us in plans and decision making,” Greenpeace Philippines campaigner Kisha Muana said. 

Muana stressed the need for a formal youth representation in local and national policies, citing the absence of policy actions concerning the youth’s needs in the government executive recovery plan.

According to Philippine Youth Climate Movement Director Ruzzel Morales, the youth can significantly contribute in provoking the system to generate changes. 

Morales called on the National Youth Commission to “genuinely advocate” the Filipino youth in the government. 

“Enough of your lip service. We want action and we want it now,” she said. 

Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Elago urged Congress to take a stand on the environmental affairs of the country.

“Kailangan natin na patuloy ipadinig ang boses na naghuhumiyaw at naninindigan para sa pananagutan sa mga tao sa kinauukulan at para sa tungkulin ng bawat isang lingkod bayan na paglingkuran ang sambayanang Pilipino,” Elago said.

According to Elago, there are seven environment-related bills that are already in the period of debate in the Congress and Senate, while 13 have passed the third reading. 

The “Para sa Klimabukasan Global Day of Climate Action” digital strike and forum was co-organized by Youth Strike 4 Climate Philippines, Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development, I am Hampaslupa Inc., Living Laudato Si Philippines, Pangasinan Youth for Disaster Risk Reduction and Management, Philippine Movement for Climate Justice, STEP Philippines, SUSG Environment Committee, and We the Future PH inspired by climate activist Greta Thunberg. Wendell Adrian Quijado

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CHR, Church opposes Duterte’s call to revive death penalty

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and the Church slammed President Duterte’s call to revive death penalty for crimes related to illegal drugs in his fifth and penultimate State of the Nation Address. 

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Photo courtesy of Manila Bulletin

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and the Church slammed President Duterte’s call to revive death penalty for crimes related to illegal drugs in his fifth and penultimate State of the Nation Address. 

“We believe in the need for a comprehensive approach in addressing drug sale and use, as well as other crimes anchored on restorative justice,” CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said in a statement. 

While the commission agrees to punish crimes, de Guia stressed that it should not result in further violations of human rights. 

Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines – Commission on Prison Pastoral Care chairman and Legazpi bishop Joel Baylon and Balanga bishop Ruperto Santos cited that studies proved that capital punishment does not deter crimes. 

“The country will also lose the honor of one of the nations which condemned death penalty if capital punishment is revived,” Sorsogon bishop Arturo Bastes said. 

According to CHR, Duterte’s vow to uphold human rights above all does not coincide with restoring death penalty through lethal injection. 

The Commission also cited that it would breach the international agreement to abolish capital punishment, which the country ratified in 2007. 

“[A]ny moves to reinstate capital punishment in the country conflicts with the tenets of the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” de Guia said.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Monday, July 27, said the revival of death penalty for drug-related offenses now has a better chance of being passed in the 18th Congress. Raheema Velasco

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